Sep 102012

The lower Red to Boonesborough, part 2

By Northrupp Center

Illustration by Christopher Epling

Editor’s Note: Future river rat scholars take note. The online edition is (thankfully) revised from the story’s appearance in print.

“Gortimer.” It is dark. I am perched high upon a brick shelf on the steep banks of the lower Red River, Estill County, watching as my fire-blown shadow-selves dance over a cascading series of nineteenth century iron furnaces in decay, the heavy brick hulls my flickered selves’ off-level stages in their strut to the river lying black one hundred feet below. “I feel ghosts.”

My day has not gone according to plan. The plan was to have NoC editor Danny Mayer and staff river writer Wes Houp pick me up at Bluegrass Airport and depart for a relaxing two-nights on the Red and Kentucky Rivers. The plan was to justify all expenses incurred on my summer trip by writing an NoC article on the Kentuckians for the Commonwealth-led effort to stop a coal-fired power plant from being built at the community of Ford on the Clark County banks of the Kentucky River upriver from the peopled public beach just below Lock 9, Fort Boonesborough State Park. Continue reading »

Aug 022012

A moveable beast

By Northrupp Center

Illustrations by Christopher Epling

Editor’s note: The author claims this article as part two of his contractually obligated three-part look at the 2010 World Equestrian Games. Our lawyers and spiritual advisors have advised us to agree with him; accordingly, we advise you to take heed of a note paper-clipped to the report submitted by our on-staff Fact-Bureau: “Northrupp’s account swings chaotically between being very factual but little accurate, and very accurate but little factual. After four reads, we still can’t say what is what.”

“WEG 2010, a trailer in the wilds of Jessamine County. It was just the whole package, man.”

Gortimer pauses, inhales a spoonful of muted crimson broth chunked with plant and animal remains. “A sashimi appetizer followed by a butternut hoof soup. For the main course, a sea briscuit sitting on a bed of fluffy Weisenburger white grits, the whole thing glistening in a colt marrow demi-glaze. It even showed in the dessert, two scoops of salted spleen ice-cream could rival any Lundy concoction.” Continue reading »

Dec 072011

Creatives demand Commerce Lexington banner

By Northrupp Center

Last week, news emerged from the JP Morgan Chase Bank Plaza that Occupy Lexington is now the longest continuously running occupation in North America. Formally started on the night of September 29, the Lexington occupation was the third to organize and take up space. When it came time to publicly and collectively stand up, be counted and say, No more. Not in our name!, the order went like this: New York. Chicago. Lexington. The rest of the continent. Continue reading »

Nov 092011

Monday nights, 10:00 P.M.

By Northrupp Center

“It is said that all games of bocce begin and end with a handshake.”

—Maxim printed on the rules to a bocce set purchased in 2001.

Guerrilla bocce is an anarchist variant of the popular Italian lawn game that dates back to ancient Roman times. The game is simple. Players take turns throwing two balls at a smaller ball, known as the Jack or the Pallino. Points are earned based upon proximity to the Jack: 2 points are awarded to the player whose ball is closest; 1 point is awarded to the second closest ball. Games continue until the winning player reaches 11 points.

Aesthetically, Guerrilla bocce is closer to Free Range bocce than to the more staid and traditional Courted bocce, which is played by teams of two on courts of crushed oyster shells that run to ninety feet long. In Guerrilla bocce, players walk their environments, rolling their balls on a variety of public, quasi-public and some just downright no-trespassing green spaces. Hooting and hollering is often involved, though it holds no official place in Guerrilla bocce rules. Continue reading »

Aug 102011

Nazi war criminals

[In response to the June 22 Beth Connors Manke article “On war criminials and resistance fighers.”]

I met an 80+ year old man in Colorado in the mid 70s that was a ranking officer in the SS. He was gotten out by the Catholic church’s ratlines.

I discovered a shrine to the grandfather of a group of Italians that lived in Pennsylvania in the late 1980s. I was looking for a bathroom and walked into a room with a uniform, a Hitler mural, and a picture of the grandfather in a SS uniform.

When I was in New Zealand, I met a Dutchman with a real loose story. He stayed in the same hostel as I, turned up on the same flight to Australia and we split the cost of an air-conditioned hotel room in Sydney. After over 15 hours of continual questioning he finally admitted that he had joined the SS and served as a concentration camp guard before Germany invaded Holland. He was still, after 40 years, wanted for war crimes in Holland and Poland.

Turn them in?

I witnessed three separate massacres of unarmed Vietnamese in my 11.5 months in the hell we created there. I never reported them to anyone. I never even went to the newspapers in New York City when I was stationed there afterward.

41 years later, I still feel worse than any of the war criminals that I met.

friendly, Smirking Chimp blog Continue reading »

Jul 132011

West Irvine to Drowning Creek

By Gortimer T. Spotts

We’d agreed to rally at dawn and attack the river before the unseasonably scalding June sun had a chance to fully preheat the western hemisphere. But a very small window is the dawn. I awoke at noon and hustled to Mayer Manor on the north side of Lex, well, just north of center, to rendezvous with the General and Northrupp, who were both convalescing with the Mayer family on a kind of sympathetic and extended maternity leave. General Dallas, bare-chested and unshaven, greeted me at the kitchen door holding baby Josie just like a nursing mother, a delicate white towel draped over the shoulder, a corncob pipe clenched in the jaw, unlit. “Good morning, young Gortimer. We’re just wrapping up the morning feed.” And just then Northrupp appeared at the foot of the stairs with two loaded dry bags and two collapsible coolers slung over his arm. “Ah, Gorty, you’re early. Think we’re all ready.” With quiet goodbyes to the semi-roused parents, we made our break, the General plugging baby Josie back into her vintage General Electric Slumbersling and turning the dial to eleven, heavy drool mode. Continue reading »

Jul 132011

Dear Gortimer,

Returned is your wonderful manuscript, “The phantom map,” with some minor GUM revisions in thick red ink. You may be interested in the story behind the demise of the great South East Coal Company that you mention us passing nearby Cubbard’s Rock.

The company was incorporated in 1915, when Henry LaViers, an immigrant from Wales, secured the mineral rights needed to organize five coal camps. The most well known of these, apparently still generally intact, is located at Seco (renamed “South East Coal Company Operation 1” upon its purchase in 1915), on the banks of Boone Fork, a tributary of the Kentucky River’s North Fork and not far from Whitesburg in Letcher County. Continue reading »

May 252011

A Jessamine pastoral

By Northrupp Center

In April while dining on my hillside apartment balcony over-looking the Duque de Caxias and, below that shimmering in the sun, the Baja de Guanabara, I read about the new group Creatives for Common Sense Solutions, formed by NoC editor Danny Mayer after a visit to Nicholasville’s 24-hole Riney B disc golf course. Intrigued by the story, I immediately handed grading duties for a graduate-level journalism ethics class over to my graduate assistants and made immediate plans to catch the first direct flight to Lexington, Kentucky, destined for a round of disc golf. Was the course all Mayer made it out to be? Was Lexington losing out to its ugly cousin to the south? This had the makings of a story. Continue reading »

Feb 022011

Night falls on the Jessamine

By Northrupp Centre

Northrupp Center

Gortimer peers out a hidden cave.

Ideally, camp set-up is a self-organizing process. Decide upon a spot, disembark, lay out a tarp, unload dry-bags. Grab a drink or snack, set up tents, unpack and organize kitchen. If energetic, or if planning a night womp, empty boat and dump canoe-water. Collect firewood and centralize all trash. Explore singly or as group. Camps need not be neat, but the best have their own intrinsic order and efficiency.

Having paddled many rivers with my friend Gortimer T. Spotts, our camp set-up on Jessamine Creek was nearly impeccable. We had held out, resisted north-facing bottoms and muddy take-outs, twisted our way upstream through a shallow and narrow gravel channel, and then bull-horned through a thick, creek-spanning deadfall to arrive at our campsite: a rare sandy bank gently rising five feet above the water on an inside bend, the east side, a flat space just large enough for our tent, some gear and a fire. Continue reading »

Jan 192011

A beaver tale

By Northrupp Centre

Northrupp Center

Walking up Jessamin Creek

“Paint what I see, simply.”

Harlan Hubbard, November 1959

Looked at from the perspective of the heavens, as one would look at a map, Camp Nelson lies just above the southernmost point of the Kentucky River’s 60 mile long southwest detour around southern Fayette and Jessamine Counties, a sort of convex riverine parabolic arc that begins near Winchester at Lock 10, turns and pivots north and west at Lock 8 a couple miles from here, and ends somewhere around Brooklyn Bridge just past Lock 7 as the river paces itself toward Frankfort and the wide, flat lower stretches beyond.

Continue reading »